Instant Replay: Red Sox 7, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Red Sox 7, Phillies 3

BOX SCORE

The Red Sox jumped on Jeremy Hellickson in the first two innings Wednesday to hand the Phillies an eighth straight loss.

The Phils answered Boston's five early runs with a three-spot in the third inning but did no scoring after that in a 7-3 loss.

They did have a slight chance in the eighth inning with two on, two out and Cameron Rupp representing the tying run but Rupp struck out against flamethrower Matt Barnes.

The Phillies (21-43) have lost three of Hellickson's last four starts after winning eight of his first nine.

Starting pitching report
What trade value (see story)?

Hellickson pitched poorly on Wednesday, allowing six runs to the Red Sox on nine hits and three walks over five innings as his ERA rose again to 4.91. 

He's spent just one week of his Phillies career with a higher ERA, between his fourth and fifth starts last year.

It's been a true struggle for Hellickson since the end of April. In nine starts since May 1, he has a 6.89 ERA and his opponents have hit .310/.383/.610. That's a .993 OPS. To put that into perspective, there are only eight players in the majors this season with an OPS of .993 or higher.

Red Sox starting pitcher Brian Johnson left in the third inning with shoulder discomfort in his left (throwing) arm. The Phillies were sad to see him go as they preceded his exit with two doubles, a single and a homer.

Bullpen report
The Red Sox's bullpen pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings after Johnson was forced out of the game early. 

At the plate
Aaron Altherr homered for the second straight game, sending a two-run missile just over the left-field wall. He's hitting .286/.360/.550 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. His numbers have remained solid even as he's slowed down, a good sign of his sustainability.

Freddy Galvis doubled twice and walked, and Howie Kendrick singled in a run.

Maikel Franco, 6 for 9 in the two games in Boston, went hitless in four at-bats.

The list of players more fun to watch than Mookie Betts could be made on one hand. The guy does everything well — hit, hit for power, run, throw, roam the outfield. He's a true five-tool player, and as former Phillies GM-turned-Red Sox first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. gushed about him before the game, one couldn't help but wonder how much farther along the Phillies might be had they been able to land Betts at some point. (Boston rightfully loved him so much that it was never really realistic even amid the countless trade connections between the two clubs.)

Betts went 4 for 5 with two homers, a double, three RBIs and four runs. Despite going 0 for 6 last night, Betts is 8 for 16 with six extra-base hits against the Phillies this week. 

Xander Bogaerts doubled and drove in three runs. 

In the field
Altherr doubled Andrew Benintendi off of first base with a rocket throw from the right-field warning track in the seventh inning. It's the second time this week Benintendi veered too far off the bag and was doubled off by a Phillies outfielder. Daniel Nava nailed him at second on his jumping catch on Monday night.

Prospect notes
Even with Cesar Hernandez out through late July, the Phillies have no plans to call up second base prospect Scott Kingery, GM Matt Klentak said prior to Wednesday's game (see story).

Kingery entered Wednesday hitting .300 with 18 home runs, 35 RBIs, 55 runs and 14 steals for Double A Reading.

Up next
The fourth and final Phillies-Red Sox game of the year pits Chris Sale (8-2, 2.97) against Nick Pivetta (1-3, 5.52) Thursday night at 7:05. 

Good luck with that one.

Best of MLB: Josh Reddick's big day helps Astros sweep A's

Best of MLB: Josh Reddick's big day helps Astros sweep A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Josh Reddick homered and scored four runs, Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez each went deep and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 12-9 on Thursday.

The major league-leading Astros completed a four-game sweep with their 10th straight victory in Oakland and their 15th win in 16 games against the A's overall. They've won 12 of their last 14 road games. Their 27-8 record away from home is the best in the majors.

Reddick also doubled, tripled and drew a walk, and Marisnick and Gonzalez each drove in three runs.

David Paulino (2-0) struck out six and gave up three runs, seven hits and two walks. The 23-year-old rookie right-hander struck out five of his first six batters in his sixth career start.

Astros center fielder George Springer left with a left hand contusion after being struck by a fastball from Jesse Hahn (3-5) leading off the game. The ball also grazed Springer's left shoulder. Springer is tied for second in the AL with 21 home runs. His status is day-to-day (see full recap).

Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks blast Rockies
DENVER -- Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Owings hit three-run homers, Zack Godley threw well into the eighth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Thursday.

Goldschmidt finished with three hits and four RBIs to increase his season total to 64, tops in the majors.

Arizona took two of three in the NL West matchup and is now tied with Colorado for second place in the division behind the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks have won 12 of 14 and are a season-high 19 games above .500.

Godley gave up a home run to Charlie Blackmon to lead off the first inning, but shut down the Rockies from there.

Blackmon drew a walk in the third, then Godley erased him with a double-play ball to end the inning. He didn't allow a hit after Nolan Arenado's one-out single in the first and retired 19 of the next 20 batters before Raimel Tapia and Pat Valaika singled and doubled to lead off the eighth.

Godley (3-1) allowed three runs on four hits and struck out eight in seven-plus innings. He also helped himself with an RBI single in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks hit a Colorado rookie pitcher hard for the second straight night. Wednesday they scored 10 runs in the fourth off Jeff Hoffman, and Thursday they battered right-hander Antonio Senzatela (9-3) for nine runs in five innings.

Owings' homer in the third, his ninth, made it 5-1, and Goldschmidt hit his 18th to cap a four-run fourth to make it 9-1 (see full recap).

Knebel sets strikeout mark as Brewers top Pirates
MILWAUKEE -- Corey Knebel broke Arodlis Chapman's modern-era record for most consecutive games by a reliever with a strikeout at a season's start, fanning a batter for the 38th straight game and closing out the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Knebel struck out Josh Bell on a foul tip leading off the ninth. The 25-year-old right-hander retired Elias Diaz and Andrew McCutchen on popouts, finishing a four-hitter for his 12th save in 15 chances.

Chapman had set the mark since 1900 as part of a streak of 49 games for Cincinnati that began in August 2013 and ended the following August.

Travis Shaw drove in three runs with a homer and two doubles, and he came within inches of a second home run.

Chase Anderson (6-2) allowed two runs and two hits in six innings (see full recap).

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Odubel Herrera’s return to the dugout was so slow that home plate umpire Nic Lentz had to clap to speed him along. Herrera obliged, accelerating to an effortless jog until he left Lentz’s sight. Then he went back to a hung head and a crawling pace as he reached the steps. Boos met his ears through it all. 

Herrera was picked off third base by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for the second out of the fourth inning on Thursday. It didn’t matter much as the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 5-1 (see Instant Replay), guided by Aaron Nola’s the best outing in a long time (see story)

However, Herrera made a base-running blunder at the same spot Wednesday night, when he blew through a Juan Samuel stop sign and was out by a mile at home plate to make the final out in the ninth inning of a tie game. And later on Thursday, while on second during a running count and Maikel Franco behind him at first, Herrera didn’t run on the pitch.

These are mistakes any big-leaguer should avoid. And when he’s the only player a team has signed to a long-term deal, which is supposed to last into a new era that involves winning games, the mistakes sting a bit more. 

“I’m not pleased about it,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. 

Had Wednesday night’s gaffe been avoided, maybe the Phillies could have gone on to win. Thursday’s was more embarrassing than damaging. While displeased, Mackanin, who said he thought about giving Herrera Thursday off, understood what happened this time around.

“He was running contact. And when you’re running contact, you’re susceptible to getting picked off by a catcher, especially with a left-handed hitter up,” Mackanin said. “You have to be aware of that. They’re taught to be aware of that. He just didn’t take that first hard step back. And that deters the catcher from throwing to third base. It happened.” 

The Phillies have been picked off eight times this season. Entering Thursday, only four teams had been picked off more. 

The Phillies own a run scoring percentage (percentage of base runners that eventually score) of 28.0, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. While much of that can be attributed to bad bats, mistakes like Herrera’s are not helping the cause. 

At 25, Herrera is still figuring this whole thing out. But he was the Phillies’ only All-Star last year and is supposed to be a consistent presence in the lineup. 

Andres Blanco, on the opposite end of the spectrum, first saw major-league action in 2004, and should be providing a consistent presence in the Phillies’ clubhouse. Yet on Thursday, starting at second base instead of Howie Kendrick, Blanco made a veteran play on the base paths, which felt like the remedy to Herrera’s mental lapses.

In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs and Blanco on second base, Freddy Galvis grounded a ball up the middle. Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz sent an errant flip to second to get the final out, and Blanco was smart enough to round third and score after the ball got loose in the infield. Mackanin called it a heads-up play. 

“That’s the kind of players you’re looking for, the guys that are going to look for those kinds of things to happen,” Mackanin said, “and they don't assume a play is going to be made and assume they might be able to take an extra base.

“He’s a veteran. I’m glad he paid attention.”